STARKVILLE — Mississippi State and baseball coach John Cohen have requested a summary judgment to the civil lawsuit against them by former player Forrest Moore.
In a 22-page legal response filed in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court on Monday, MSU’s legal counsel has provided evidence to support a counter argument to Moore’s suit that alleges Cohen and Associate Athletic Director Mike Nemeth with the breach of contract, intentional/tortious interference with contract and civil conspiracy. MSU’s legal counsel, Perry, Winfield & Wolfe, filed a motion for a summary judgment without going through a full trial based on a signed affidavit testimony of MSU compliance director Bracky Brett and signed documents by Moore.
Last May, Moore’s representation filed a 17-page lawsuit against MSU, Cohen, and Nemeth claiming negligence by the coaching staff contributed to an elbow injury that limited his ability to play professional baseball. The lawsuit further claims Cohen and Nemeth “conspired” to “drive Moore away” from the baseball program.
Cohen and Nemeth’s legal team have submitted a renewal letter signed by Moore on July 2, 2008, that attempts to counter the former player’s claim MSU tried to take away his baseball scholarship aid for the 2008-09 academic year.
Moore claims the coaching staff informed him his scholarship would be taken away and he wouldn’t be granted a medical redshirt after Cohen discovered he needed surgery to repair the ligament tear in his elbow. On Monday, Cohen’s legal team submitted a Southeastern Conference medical exemption petition signed by Moore on June 30, 2009. Under NCAA rules, an approved medical exemption petition allows a student-athlete with a debilitating injury to remain on financial aid without being able to physically participate and not count toward the program’s scholarship total.
Except for this past spring semester, Brett’s written testimony states Moore has been receiving university financial aid through 2008 to this semester.
“In certain cases, student-athletes who are injured may obtain a hardship waiver, sometimes referred to as a “medical redshirt” to allow them to extend their careers,” Brett said. “The decision of whether to grant a hardship waiver is ultimately governed by NCAA regulations. MSU and its employees have no ability to grant so-called medical redshirts.”
Cohen declined comment Monday when contacted by The Dispatch.
The lawsuit seeks undisclosed damages and claims MSU’s baseball program is responsible for the deterioration of Moore’s pitching arm and caused an injury that prevents the 6-foot-1, 193-pounder from pursuing a professional baseball career.
Moore, a Baton Rogue, La., native, made 29 appearances, including 11 starts, at MSU from 2008-09. He was 3-3 with a 7.17 ERA with one save and 87 strikeouts.
Moore, who wasn’t a member of the 2010 MSU team, was still drafted in
2010 by the Miami Marlins organization, but he didn’t pitch an inning last year in their rookie league. Moore’s father, Dana, told The Dispatch in a May phone interview that the family is pursing this action to compensate for the potential money his son would have earned as a professional baseball player.
Dana Moore played on the 1979-81 MSU football teams. Forrest Moore’s mother is a former MSU cheerleader.
Also Monday, Cohen’s legal counsel claimed neither the MSU coach nor any member of the coaching staff did anything intentionally negligent while Moore was a member of the MSU baseball program. The final piece of Cohen’s legal team’s submitted evidence shows a photo copy of an August 2011 text message between Moore and a member of the MSU coaching staff where the former pitcher was requesting to be on a list for free MSU football home game tickets.
The purpose of submitting this text message is to show that months after the suit was filed that Moore had kept a positive relationship with the MSU baseball coaching staff after claims of emotional and physical abuse.
In a June response to a motion by the representation of Cohen to
dismiss the lawsuit against him, Moore’s attorney included an affidavit from former MSU outfielder Mark Goforth that claims direct violations of NCAA rules involving practice times.
Under NCAA rules, college student-athletes are restricted to no more than four hours per day or 20 hours per week of practice.
Cohen is 86-87 in three seasons at MSU. Last season, he led MSU to a Super Regional NCAA tournament berth. MSU was nine outs away from defeating the University of Florida for a trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.